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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - February 2021
From the Rabbi - February 2021 PDF Print E-mail
There is a story told of President John F. Kennedy on his first visit to NASA headquarters in 1961. As he was touring the facility, he passed a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. The janitor responded - “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”

I remembered this story as I stood at the Robstown Fairgrounds last Friday directing traffic as people drove out of the large hangers in which they had received their first shot for the COVID-19 vaccine.  I was not a doctor or nurse or one of the people who were engaged in the gargantuan task of administering this mammoth endeavor.  My part in all this was very small and yet it certainly felt like I was, in my own way, helping to put a man on the moon. 

Several of our congregants have already led the way in being part of this great task and have been leading in getting people involved and it would be wonderful to have more of us participate, not just because it’s important work that needs volunteers but because such work has larger meaning.  In a world that has been wracked by the challenges of COVID 19, being able to do something, however small, to help make that better is a powerful feeling.

And it is a powerful reminder that, while the problems in the world may seem overwhelming, there is always something we can do.  The irony of our individualistic age is that we tend to think that the world is changed by individuals whose actions turn the course of history.  But, while such people exist – Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Theodore Herzl – they are few and far between, and we may feel that, unless we are this kind of extraordinary person, there is little we can do to change the world. 
But our tradition says otherwise.  Our tradition tells us, in total agreement with the NASA janitor, that we are all part of a larger whole and each of our contributions are important and essential.  And our tradition understands that the task of fixing the world is one that is a duty for all of us, that we must all rely on each other to carry it out, and that, as the Pirke Avot states, while we cannot desist from the work, it’s not our job to finish it alone either.  Or to put it more simply, we are all in this together and we can all play our part. 

For those who are able to participate there are details for how to volunteer to help with the vaccinations in Nueces county on our member Facebook page and it’s a both a very important task and a very meaningful experience.  And outside of that our congregation and our city have many ways in which we can volunteer and help, and as we look forward to a post-Corona world, we hope to be able to provide many more opportunities to volunteer and be part of something meaningful and purposeful that make the world  better place one action at a time.  
Rabbi Ilan Emanuel

 

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